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Opinion

Chase's gain is wine bar's loss

And the winner isn't...

Lifetime achievement

Bloody bankers!

Euroslaughter


Are we now set to see the return of Yann Gindre to the cut and thrust of debt capital markets? The ebullient Frenchman, whose passion for fine wine and cheese is legendary, appeared increasingly to be stuck in a rut as head of credit capital markets at Commerzbank, which he had joined in the autumn of 1996, and had quietly begun to sound out prospective new employers.

Along came Chase Manhattan, best known in Europe for its strength in foreign exchange and syndicated loans. But in the US the bank has been climbing steadily up the debt league tables. And over the past 18 months it has been hiring other well-known names for its European operations, the most prominent being Michael Ridley, who was snatched away from Salomon Smith Barney at the start of last year.

Chase's ambitions appear to be in stark contrast to Commerzbank, which seems to have expended most of its efforts on building its equities division. On the debt side, Gindre and others found themselves increasingly sidelined as management from what used to be Commerzbank Financial Products gained influence over executives, and appeared to relegate its Eurobond effort to Pfandbriefe and little else.

That was never going to be enough to satisfy Gindre, whose earlier career at UBS and then BZW was peppered with high-profile mandates.

Were it not for his insistence on being a debt originator at the start of the 1990s, though, he could have taken a rather different path. He went for a job at Goldman Sachs, and was told they would hire him, but thought he was better suited to a role in sales. He turned them down, and you can still hear a faint tone of regret in his voice.

Before he starts at Chase on July 13, he's taken time off to indulge in one of his favourite pursuits, sailing in Brittany. Let's hope he can finally exorcise the ghost from his past: it was while he was in the peninsula three years ago that he received a call from Bob Diamond telling him that he'd given his job to Abigail Hofman - the act that set in motion his move to Commerzbank.

No doubt the owner of Bill Bentley's will rue Gindre's departure; the bar became Gindre's favourite lunchtime watering hole, just round the corner from his old office in the City of London. But lest Gindre should worry, there is a very pleasant wine bar even closer to Chase's office. Then again, that's probably where the deal was struck. Antony Currie


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